While I don’t consider myself an actual “expert” on any topic (okay, maybe The Real Housewives of select cities), I do feel there are certain subject matters on which I can offer pretty good advice.
One of those is daycare.
I have worked in four different daycares at various points in my life, and most recently I was the director of one for close to three years.
As several of my friends had children and enrolled them in daycare, I was happy to answer any and all questions they had, because I could offer an insider’s point-of-view. Obviously, I could only answer based on my personal observations at the daycares where I worked (all of which were reputable and of a high-quality).
Here is what these mommies wanted to know…
Do the teachers lie about what the baby does? For the most part, no. If we wrote down that your baby ate all of his applesauce and pureed peas, then he did. If he wasn’t eating his food, a teacher writing that he did doesn’t help the situation. So why lie about it?
However, if there was a mom who was a stickler for wanting her baby to finish every single ounce of every bottle and there was a time he didn’t finish the last half ounce, I could see a teacher just writing on the paper that the baby finished it all.
Another situation I could see where a child’s paper may not be entirely truthful is if a teacher wrote that your baby did x, y, and z at Circle Time, but in reality, your baby fell asleep early and napped through it. But in general, if you are told that “Mary had a great day today! She played with the alphabet blocks, drank all her bottles, and napped for two hours,” it’s the truth.
Will my baby really be able to nap with all the other babies in the room? Most parents fear that their baby won’t be able to sleep with a dozen other kids in the same room- some awake and making noise, some screaming, and some sleeping at the same time.
It seems unbelievable any child would be able to get a decent nap in this environment. Unbelievable, but true! The majority of kids do adapt to the background noise and learn how to nap through the various sounds.
If you think about it, there are noises at your own home, too. Just different ones- dogs barking, doorbell ringing, older siblings being loud. Babies adapt. Yes, your baby may not take marathon three-hour-naps at daycare like he does at home for you on the weekends, but for the majority of cases, he will learn to nap with the noise at daycare.
What if my baby doesn’t finish his bottle or food- is the staff knowledgeable on food safety procedures? Yes. This information is often posted on a sheet of paper for teachers to easily use as a reference. If it’s not, I would say that in my experience, teachers in an infant room know that once a jar of food has been contaminated by a spoon used by baby, that food can’t be saved for later.
If we thought a baby wasn’t going to finish an entire jar/container, we would put half of the food into a bowl and serve baby from there. That way, the remaining food in the container is not contaminated and can be saved (in the fridge) for later.
Same thing for bottles. If baby wanted to drink 2 ounces, then take a rest, then drink 2 more ounces, etc., we knew never to keep the bottle “going” for longer than an hour, once baby has drank from it.
Even though you can assume that a daycare will know and follow procedures such as this, if it will make you feel better to attach a note to the bottle that says “Breastmilk: please don’t microwave!”, then do it. I have written that exact note when my daughter was in the care of others.
Do they follow the crazy instructions parents give them? If by crazy instructions you mean something like, “Please make sure that if Little Suzy’s socks get dirty, you put on new socks that match her outfit,” then NO. Something like that just isn’t a priority when it comes to watching a roomful of children.
If by crazy instructions you mean a detailed request that Little Suzy needs to remain upright after her bottle because she has reflux, then YES. If it’s an issue concerning a baby’s health or eating habits, I would find it hard to believe that any daycare didn’t follow a parent’s exact instructions, no matter how “crazy” they appear. At the end of the day, the parent is the customer and the customer is always right. A good daycare should accommodate most parental requests, as long as they aren’t too inane.
It is completely reasonable for parents to have questions about what their child does all day. Establish a good line of communication with your child’s daycare early on. If you have a question about why your child’s daily paper says he had bananas for lunch when you sent in sweet potato, ask the teacher. Maybe your little angel threw the bowl of bananas on the floor and the staff had to give him a different jar of food. Or maybe the teacher simply wrote the wrong food down on the wrong paper. It happens!
If you have a child care center that you feel is reputable and you trust the teachers, then you should rest assured that they are doing the best possible job of taking care of your child.